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Limbaugh show canceled in Hilo

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The nationally syndicated Rush Limbaugh radio show has been pulled from Hilo radio station KPUA-AM 670 in the aftermath of his offensive remarks about a woman who spoke in favor of health plan coverage for contraception.

It may be the first radio station nationally to cancel airings of the program.

New West Broadcasting Corp. President and General Manger Chris Leonard said, regardless of the political views being discussed, he felt the initially degrading comments about Georgetown University law school student Sandra Fluke, and the escalating comments that followed, were "egregious," and that "decency and responsibility" dictated the show’s cancellation.

"I spent a good part of the weekend deliberating this issue," he said. "Had this been one of my disc jockeys that had made this comment, they would have been terminated."

Two other Hawaii radio stations air the weekday program: KHVH-AM 830 in Honolulu, from 9 a.m. no noon, and on Maui, KAOI-AM 1110, from 8 to 11 a.m.

On Monday, AOL Inc. and Tax Resolution Services Co. were the eighth and ninth companies to say that they will suspend advertising on Limbaugh’s program, one of the most popular radio shows in the country.

Limbaugh last week called student Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” after she testified to congressional Democrats in support of their national health care policy that would compel her Jesuit college’s health plan to cover her birth control.

He apologized over the weekend after several advertisers pulled out of his program.

On Monday, he joked that he got a busy signal when he called his show because of the advertisers who are abandoning it. 

Clear Channel’s Premiere Radio Networks Inc. hosts Limbaugh’s show. The company is supporting Limbaugh, whose on-air contract runs through 2016.

Premiere Radio said in a statement Monday that it respects Limbaugh’s right to express his opinions, and said that “in an attempt at absurdist humor to illustrate his political point, Mr. Limbaugh used words that unfortunately distracted from the message he was trying to convey.” 

The company said Limbaugh did the right thing by “expressing regret for his choice of words and offering his sincere and heartfelt apology to Ms. Fluke.”  Fluke said Monday that Limbaugh’s apology changes nothing and that Americans have to decide whether to support companies that continue to advertise on his program.

The advertisers that have backed away from Limbaugh’s program represent a broad range of industries, from technology to financial services to retailers. Tax Resolution Services advises customers on tax disputes with the IRS. CEO Michael Rozbruch said Monday that his firm is pulling ads for now. The company has endorsements from Limbaugh and other conservative broadcasters on its website.

AOL, an Internet portal that runs the TechCrunch blog and the Huffington Post, said Monday that Limbaugh’s comments “are not in line with our values.” 

Other companies that say they have left the show include flower delivery service ProFlowers, mortgage lender Quicken Loans, the maker of Sleep Number beds, mattress retailer Sleep Train, software maker Citrix Systems Inc., online data backup service provider Carbonite and online legal document services company LegalZoom.  

Clear Channel Media and Entertainment operates more than 850 radio stations in the U.S., and Premiere says it’s the largest radio content provider in the country, syndicating programs to more than 5,000 affiliate stations. Clear Channel has declined to say how much revenue it stands to lose from advertiser defections. Its parent company was taken private in 2008.

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